Social Skills Interventions for Children with Asperger’s Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism: A Review and Recommendations

Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State Hershey College of Medicine, H073, 500 University Drive, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.34). 03/2008; 38(2):353-61. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-007-0402-4
Source: PubMed


This paper reviews the literature examining social skills training (SST) programs for youth with AS/HFA, with an emphasis on critically evaluating efficacy and highlighting areas of future research. The review highlights the disparity between SST programs described in the extant literature, including lack of a universal definition of social skills, various levels of intensity and duration of treatment, divergent theoretical backgrounds, and variety in services provided in clinic or classroom settings. Overall, it is clear that, despite their widespread clinical use, empirical support for SST programs for children with AS/HFA is minimal at this time. Based on this critical review, a "roadmap" for future research, consistent with recommendations put forth by a leading group of autism researchers, is presented.

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Available from: Deborah C Beidel
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    • "While there are reviews of the literature that evaluate a myriad of social skills interventions specifically for children and adolescents with a diagnosis of HFA, they are narrative in methodology and do not evaluate the efficacy or evidence base of the interventions (Cappadocia and Weiss 2011; Rao et al. 2008). In order to determine the best practices for homogenous groups on the autism spectrum (i.e., HFA), evaluation through systematic review, with methodologies for determining EBP and treatment efficacy, is necessary. "
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    ABSTRACT: An impaired development in social interaction is a defining characteristic of high-functioning autism (HFA). Video modeling (VM), role play, and computer-based instruction (CBI) have received empirical evaluation in the literature and are increasingly used in clinical practice as treatment approaches for increasing social skills in this population. Systematic reviews of the efficacy and evidence base of these interventions for children and adolescents with HFA are limited to date and are primarily narrative in methodology. It is true that much of what we know about VM, role play, and CBI is derived from reviews of the broader Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) population, which highlights the need to evaluate the effects of these interventions on heterogeneous groups of ASD (i.e., HFA). The current study provides a focused review of the efficacy and evidence base of VM, role play, and CBI for teaching social skills to children and adolescents with HFA. In addition, a set of stringent criteria were used to evaluate the status of these interventions as evidence-based practice (EBP; Reichow 2011). According to Reichow’s (2011) criteria, only one of the three interventions evaluated (i.e., CBI) had the accumulated evidence necessary to be classified as an established EBP, while both VM and role play did not. Areas for future research and recommendations for practice are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016
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    • "Indeed, prior work has shown that the development of social skills encompasses a complex and delicate interaction between several elements, such as smiling, eye contact, imitation, joint attention, language, and the observer's own motor system among others. These elements play a role in the accomplishment of positive developmental outcomes, including peer acceptance, academic achievement, and mental health (Rao et al., 2008). Although this temporal sequence encompasses changes that can be observed at both neural and behavioral levels, the literature about social development has drawn up different concepts over the years. "
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    ABSTRACT: Social skills refer to a wide group of abilities that allow us to interact and communicate with others. Children learn how to solve social situations by predicting and understanding other's behaviors. The way in which humans learn to interact successfully with others encompasses a complex interaction between neural, behavioral, and environmental elements. These have a role in the accomplishment of positive developmental outcomes, including peer acceptance, academic achievement, and mental health. All these social abilities depend on widespread brain networks that are recently being studied by neuroscience. In this paper, we will first review the studies on this topic, aiming to clarify the behavioral and neural mechanisms related to the acquisition of social skills during infancy and their appearance in time. Second, we will briefly describe how developmental diseases like Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can inform about the neurobiological mechanisms of social skills. We finally sketch a general framework for the elaboration of cognitive models in order to facilitate the comprehension of human social development.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Frontiers in Neuroscience
    • "Although behaviorally based interventions seem to be an effective means to provide appropriate support for children with ASD included in general education (Leach 2010), there is little research support to help teachers learn how to implement these interventions effectively taking into account students, interventions , and context differences (Camargo et al. 2014). Another reason why it is important to investigate overall effectiveness and specific conditions in which interventions are most effective in inclusive settings is that children with ASD often have difficulties generalizing skills learned in teaching environments (e.g., clinic, home, or special education classroom) to environments in which those skills were not targeted (Bellini et al. 2007; Rao et al. 2008). Thus, it is necessary to know, for example, whether participants' age, behavioral components used, type of target social skills, intervention implementer, and additional need for peer training lead to differential outcomes taking into account the specificities of inclusive settings such as less structured environment and bigger number of students (Camargo et al. 2014). "
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    ABSTRACT: Behaviorally based interventions have been demonstrated to be effective to teach social interaction skills for children with autism spectrum disorders in general education. However, the overall and moderating effects of these interventions have not been previously investigated in inclusive settings. The goal of this study was to investigate the overall effectiveness and contextual factors that moderate intervention effectiveness in inclusive settings. Findings showed overall high effect size based on studies previously considered of methodological quality in single-case research. Interventions are demonstrated to be highly effective for children aged 2–10 years. While differences were found according to target social skills and behavioral components used, no differential effects were found regarding intervention implementer and peer training. The findings highlight the practical significance of behavioral interventions and guide educators toward more suitable evidence-based practices in inclusive settings.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Journal of Behavioral Education
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